Squatters, sexism and football

An article we wrote for Freedom Anarchist Newspaper 

A squatters’ football tournament was held on Hackney Marshes in London on Saturday 22nd May. We were disappointed to hear about what happened on the day.

It appears that one of the teams (who we’d quite like to name and shame although our sources aren’t sure of the exact miss-spelling used: the “Semi-Sicotix”?) couldn’t handle the idea of women playing footie. Their first match was against “Gore Core FC”, a mixed team which included three female players, and they made it clear pretty early on that they didn’t believe women could or should play. As the Gore Core team took the lead by scoring two goals against them, they then moved on to aiming disparaging, derogatory comments at the individual women who were daring to prove them wrong.

Despite a near-constant stream of sexist shit, and an offer by the referee to end the game (and declare it in their favour) at half-time, the Gore Core women decided they’d rather carry on playing, and beating the misogynists. However, the macho posturing escalated into actual violence during the second half. After one of the Gore Core players was hit in the back of the head, the ref acted decisively and ended the match.

Why should anyone else have to put up with their behaviour? It’s bad enough that most women we know suffer this sort of sexual harassment when they walk down the street, without it happening at an event that’s organised and attended by people who are supposed to be politically aware. What we’re left wondering is why they didn’t just kick the offenders out there and then?

Those who had suffered, or just witnessed, the violence and ridiculous levels of sexism were understandably horrified. More so when no real support was forthcoming from the organisers of the event. Most of the other teams were made aware of what had happened, and asked not to play against the “Sicotix”. However, only one other team decided that they too would leave the scene. It seems as though far too many of the assembled squatters were happy to ignore the situation, look the other way and keep on drinking. We expect better from our “comrades”. We know that not all squatters/ punks would describe themselves as “anarchists” or “anti-fascist”, but that a fair few of those who were at the football tournament do.

One excuse given for inaction was that the trouble-making team were not entirely unknown. They’ve already made a name for themselves by attacking other squatted parties and events, and ripping people off. They’ve used violence in the past to get their way, their kicks, or just to make money.

We wish that our “community” was better at defending itself against this kind of behaviour. Concepts like “solidarity” and “anti-oppression” start sounding a little hollow when this kind of situation goes unchallenged.

In the mainstream world, women’s sports are often side-lined. Despite all the media attention given to games like football, we often don’t hear much about women’s achievements. For example, the women’s England football team made it into last September’s UEFA Euro Final (coming second overall in the competition) and is on course to do extremely well in the FIFA Women’s World Cup next year (having won all their qualifying matches so far).

When women do well, and prove themselves to be strong and fast and powerful, male-dominated organisations – like the International Olympic Committee – start casting aspersions on their gender. The case of South African athlete Caster Semenya is an example of this.

There’s an excellent article on the subject in the latest issue of ‘Slingshot’ (an anarchist paper from the Bay Area that isn’t afraid to cover subjects we don’t talk about enough over here, personal relationships, mental health etc) – you can find it at: http: slingshot.tao.ca/ displaybi.php?0103010

Another new publication that we’re finding interesting right now is ‘Dysophia – the many worlds of green anarchism’. The latest issue is about anarchism and polyamory, and can be downloaded from: http://dysophia.wordpress.com/ – more themes to follow in the future include ‘poverty, privilege and immigration’ and ‘climate justice’.

Anyway, we have started putting these articles on our website too, and would love to hear your feedback, so please do visit if you’d like to leave a comment, or suggest topics we should cover in future; we’re hoping this will continue as a regular column in ‘Freedom’. http://lafk.wordpress.com/

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One Response to Squatters, sexism and football

  1. spadella says:

    This is a great text! would be great to have it posted on Indymedia.
    Would it be ok to post it on squatters mailing lists as well?

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